America is a Continent AND a Country
With the growing Atheist movement around the world, it was only a matter of time until non-American Atheists got a voice in the English-speaking community, for example this blog.
Or guest-posts, like the one my friend Manolo Matos has over at Friendly Atheist on how the Atheist community can reach out to hispanics.
One of the points he made was this one:
Try not to use the term “America” to refer to the U.S. I know it’s widespread and most of the rest of the world uses the term, but most Hispanics find it offensive. We constantly see atheists from the United States using the term “America” to refer to the U.S. especially in conferences abroad, and many Hispanics consider it arrogant. America, to the rest of the people that live in the “New World,” means from up in Alaska, down to Patagonia in Chile/Argentina. Using the term America to refer to the U.S. will alienate most Hispanics and they will feel it as a rejection. Atheists are usually very specific with terminology and definitions, and being specific with this particular term can determine how welcoming Hispanic atheists will feel.
Well, I happen to disagree on this one, and I couldn’t help but noticing it has stirred the Atheists waters a little bit. Take for example the comments at Atheist Revolution, when Vjack said he had been trying not to use “America” or “Americans” to refer to US or its citizens:
As long as I can remember, “America” has been used to refer only to the United States and “Americans” has been used to describe the people living in the U.S. This is how my family, friends, teachers, and acquaintances all talk. This is what I see, hear, and read from the news media and from my elected officials. This terminology is about as universally accepted and widely used as anything else I can think of. The degree to which it has been embedded in my consciousness cannot be overstated.
It is only recently, that it has been brought to my attention that “America” and “American” should not be used in this manner. During this time, I’ve made an effort to change how I write and how I speak. And yet, I continue to catch myself resorting back to the old terms more than I’d care to admit. Unlearning something this ingrained is really tough!
Well, despite the whole “America is a continent, not a country” meme with Facebook groups and the like, truth be told, America is a continent and a country.
Look, I’m Colombian and I live in America, the continent. But Colombia is just the name everyone calls this country. It’s actual name is Republic of Colombia, and we were once the United States of Colombia… and hadn’t that changed, we’d still be called Colombia and Colombians.
Because, the thing is, republics and united states are just forms of government, and ways of social and political organization countries choose to run themselves by.
Take Mexico for example – or should I say United Mexican States, it’s official name? Mexico is a great example, because it turns out its capital city is Mexico City. And all of them, people from Mexico and people from Mexico City are refered to as Mexicans. And they don’t go all “Mexico is country, not a city”, because, well… it is both.
Same goes for America. And I don’t take offense when someone says it’s a country, because it is. Being United States is just the political organization by which that country chooses to divide and share power. That’s it.
As a matter of fact, what would be wrong is to refer to America as the US.